The Ritz Cinema Keighley

I have just been re-reading an earlier article I did about the late, great Gerald Parkes – Cinema Owner, Entrepeneur and a man with an unrivalled knowledge of films and the cinema over many decades.

Gerald Parkes

He became one of the youngest Cinema Managers in 1969 at the Ritz Cinema in Keighley

THIS view of Keighley’s Ritz Cinema can be dated to a week in mid-April of 1952 when it ran the “best film of the year”, the Academy Award-winning An American in Paris, starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, with music by George and Ira Gershwin.

A special showing was put on for Easter Monday, starting at 10.40 in the morning.

The Ritz opened in 1938 and the first Film shown was the classic ‘Lost Horizon’ with Ronald Colman

Seating 1,526 and provided with a Compton 3Manual/5Rank organ and small variety stage the Ritz Cinema was the most luxurious theatre in the area and it even had the facility of a café-restaurant which seated 100. It was designed by the well respected firm of Verity & Beverley with Sam Beverley acting as the chief architect for the scheme.

It was renamed ABC on 30th July 1971 and showed its last film on 2nd February 1974

A stage and dressing rooms were intended for variety shows. Indeed, the Ritz would later accommodate productions of the Keighley Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society.

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Red Mountain 1951

A Good Western which I remember seeing at the Cinema as a child with by Mother and Father. My Mother loved the cinema as I do.

I can remember the last scenes of this film well.

It was in Technicolor and this was – and remains – impressive.

This is one of Alan Ladd’s lesser known and seldom-seen Westerns, a Civil War story with an excellent cast.  Alan Ladd plays Brett Sherwood, a captain from Georgia who has gone West in April 1865 to Colorado Territory to meet up with “Gen.” William Quantrell. 

The opening scene shows the legs of a person in the town of Broken Branch dismounting and killing an assayer, hiding his identity.  Since a rare form of Confederate ammunition was used, the locals figure that former Confederate soldier Lane Waldron (Arthur Kennedy), paroled after he was captured at Vicksburg, is responsible.

Lizabeth Scott was the female lead in this – her first Western. She was looking formard to starting filming but things didn’t quite live up to expectations. The very first day on location near Gallup New Mexico, the temperature was below zero and while the two male stars were quite well wrapped up, she had to appear in just a western shirt and slit skirt.

A few days later she slipped on a rock and injured her knee and that same afternoon she cut her hand during a scuffle and then to add insult to injury, she later fell in a clump of cactus.

She thought things would improve once they got back to Hollywood for the Studio scenes at Paramount but the director supervised a scene where Jeff Cory had to strike her after she rejected his advances. This called for quite a few re-takes before they were deemed to have success – so a painful time.

After the scene was completed Alan Ladd, who had been looking on asked ‘ How do you like Westerns, Liz ? To which she replied that this was her first and last one – and then said that if she gets any more Western scripts, she will just send them on to Dale Evans.

The final scenes

ABOVE – A tense scene

ABOVE – Alan Ladd with Lizabeth Scott – and BELOW she is with Arthur Kennedy.

She looks very serious in each picture.

ABOVE – That looks like Jay Silverheels – and it is. This was 1951 so he was shortly afterwards to star in ‘The Lone Ranger’ series that made him famous

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The Moment of Truth 1955 and Other Television Dramas

I am drawn to this, not from a memory I have but on reading an old Radio Times from 4 March 1955 what struck me was the cast which included Peter Ustinov – who had written the play – Peter Cushing, Donald Pleasance, Janette Sterke, Hugh Griffith, Walter Rilla and a number of others – almost like a Who’s Who of Film and TV actors of the day

Peter Ustinov and Janette Sterke

This Television version starring Peter Ustinov must have been the first one to be done after 1951 – I don’t think that this survives as it would be just before TeleRecording began

First produced in 1951, The Moment of Truth saw Peter Ustinov drawing on recent history, presenting a situation not unlike that of France in 1940 facing imminent defeat by German forces.

In 1939 the French government then recalled Maréchal Pétain from retirement, a hero to the French because of his military leadership in World War One, and brought him into the government, making him Prime Minister just before the signing of an armistice with Germany and the creation of Vichy France.

However, this play is set in an un-named republic and takes a satirical approach to the situation but the comic edge does not blunt the seriousness of Peter Ustinov’s drama which must have been drawn from recent history of the time.

The Cast is impressive

BELOW – and a decade later, Kenneth More and Janet Suzman star in ‘Lord Raingo’

Joss Ackland, Joseph O’Conor and Kenneth More

In this production from Arnold Bennett’s book Kenneth More plays Sam Raingo a typical North Country business tycoon and newspaper owner who has a heart condition. The year is 1918 and the Prime Minister in office is Andy Clyth ( Joseph O’Conor ) a long time enemy of Sam.

Sam is bored with his squire-type life in Essex and his cold wife played by Sarah Churchill – and he is involved elsewhere anyway. His mistress Janet Susman is unhappy with the situation.

Sarah Churchill

Over a decade BBC Television gave us some really big productions. ‘Lord Raingo’ must have been just before ‘Ther Forsyte Saga’ but in the same year.

Kenneth More was in that too.

He later, of course, played Father Brown in a TV series that had just thirteen episodes – that was for ITV in 1974

Kenneth More as Father Brown in ‘The Hammer of God’

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Kenilworth – a BBC Serial from 1957

This was another of the BBC’s excellent six part dramatisations from the early days of Television – if fact Episode One was transmitted – probably ‘live’ – at 9 pm on Friday 8th February 1957

ABOVE – Robin Bailey as Robert Dudley, Earl of Lancaster and Ann Firbank as Amy Robsart – his ‘secret’ wife in the story

Others in the cats were Paul Eddington and Arthur Brough – who we all remember on the long running ‘Are You Being Served’

Margaret Tyzack – almost a decade before ‘The Forsyte Saga’ played Janet.

Ann Firbank in The Soldiers Fortune a West End play ABOVE

The action for the first episode – Kenilworth – takes place at Lidcote Hall, Devon and at Cumnor Nr Oxford in 1571

In a later episode Elizabeth I, Queen of England was played by Maxine Audley – and I remember her in this role but hadn’t realised it was in ‘Kenilworth’

British Actress Maxine Audley was born Maxine Hecht on 29th April, 1923 in London, England, UK and passed away on 23rd Jul 1992 London, England, UK aged 69.

A decade later in 1967, Maxine Audley played Miss Havisham in a BBC serial dramatisation of ‘Great Expectations’ – I didn’t know that until I looked further into her career.

‘Kenilworth’ may well have been transmitted before the days of tele-recording so nothing remains of it – but it does sound like a pretty good serial – the BBC normally made a good job of this type of historical drama and I would guess that this was no exception

My memory, as mentioned, is probably only of Maxine Audley as Elizabeth 1 – Queen of England and maybe that could only have come from this adaptation – so maybe I saw it

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No Time to Die – Daniel Craig

This is hardly a film of the fifties era but nevertheless I have decided to include it – it is a film to see on the big screen much as we all did in that decade

No Time to Die’ is a real treat for Film Fans the World over – not only as a Bond film, but as an action packed blockbuster. It is beautifully shot and wonderful visually. The Hans Zimmer score is just the best

No Time to Die’ is well acted, the pacing is good, there’s a fair amount of thrilling edge-of-your seat moments and the locations are varied and impressive on the big screen

It is also emotional and bold – just take a look at the trailer ABOVE

The team behind this last Bond film should be very pleased

In his five-star review of the film, Kevin Maher of The Times said: “It’s better than good. It’s magnificent.

“Daniel Craig is a towering charismatic presence from opening frame to closing shot, and he bows out in terrific, soulful, style.”

We can expect thrills galore – and we will not be disappointed.

Cars seem to be an important part of any Bond film and it looks as though the Aston Martin DB5 is back in action ABOVE.


A Land Rover Defender looks to have come to a sticky end so James Bond tries his hand on a Motor Bike. He seems to be able to everything

BELOW – Another astonishing crash on a Scottish Lochside

Car Chases, Car Crashes in spectacular fashion

ABOVE – The famous Aston Martin DB5 lookin a little the worse for wear

The Prince of Wales took a trip to Pinewood Studios on Thursday 20 June 2019 -over two years ago – to visit the set of the 25th instalment of the suave spy franchise, where he met with lead actor Daniel Craig as well as Ralph Fiennes, who plays M.

Prince Charles also met with actresses Naomie Harris and Lashana Lynch, as he watched scenes being filmed.

The visit from Prince Charles came just days after Daniel Craig returned to filming after injuring his ankle after he slipped whilst shooting a running scene for the action blockbuster on location in Jamaica.

I mention the above because it just goes to underline how long this film has taken to some to the screen – it was originally scheduled for release at the end of 2019 and then put back to April 2020.

However events in the shape of Covid intervened.

It seems though that such a delay has not dampened the public’s eagerness to see the film – and they are not disappointed

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Sam Kydd – A New Book

Sam Kydd’s son Jonathan, discovered an unpublished autobiography and writings. diaries and scripts in his mother’s loft when clearing out the family home after she died in 2012.

He has compiled and edited Four Volumes from this archive

Sam Kydd was in Walt Disney’s ‘Treasure Island’ in 1950 made at Denham Film Studios in Technicolor BELOW:

This was just one of over 200 films that he appeared in.

His son Jonathan, went into the acting business but nothing like as successfully as his father

ABOVE – Sam Kydd visits Grantham in Lincolnshire. He had an invitation from Councillor Fred Foster his former P.O.W. colleague – they were both held in a POW camp in Poland in the War – to visit the town in 1966 and he seems to have scored a hit with these youngsters

A few years later in 1974, Fred Foster was one of the guests on the ‘This is Your Life’ show for Sam Kydd.

In an interview, Jonathan Kydd does not speak well of this show, and more or less says that in his opinion, it didn’t do justice to his father’s life. Apparently there were three or four men who had been POW’s with him – including Fred Foster – and when I listened I thought that Jonathan was a little disparaging against this brave man referring to him as ‘ a mayor of Grantham’ – what if he was ? that would be an important position in a lovely town that I know well.

Don’t forget actor Richard Todd lived there for years

Jonathan Kydd seemed to lack the warmth on camera that his Dad had.

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Yellowstone Kelly – Clint Walker

I have just come across more film stills from this Western with Clint Walker – it has remained a very popular film mainly I think because Clint Walker himself gained a lot of popularity from his TV series ‘Cheyenne’ – certainly in the UK

In ‘Yellowstone Kelly,’ Clint ‘Cheyenne’ Walker plays a fur trapper who prevents war between Indians and U.S. Cavalry, and who survives only to find true love in the arms of a beautiful and talented newcomer Andra Martin.

Plenty of action in this film the cast includes : John Russell as the chief Ray Danton as the Indian: Claude Akins as the tough sergeant and Warren Oates making his debut as a soldier…

It has a good story line which is coupled with outstanding Technicolor photography ‘Yellowstone Kelly’ has to be seen – preferably on the big screen which is not so easy these days.

I hadn’t realised that Clint was almost ‘dead’ in 1971 following a skiing accident where a ski pole punctured his heart in a fall on the ski slopes.

He was rushed to hospital and declared ‘dead’ until a doctor detected a faint heartbeat – he was operated on and his heart was repaired so well that he lived for almost another 50 years.

ABOVE – an action scene

Scenery is beautiful. Clint Walker is outstanding in the role and the pairing with Ed Burns proved to be a good choice. Very enjoyable to watch with a good story.

Beautiful scenery and this one should be a must for Western fans.

There is a scene at the end of Yellowstone Kelly, where Kelly ( Clint Walker) tells Sioux Chief Gall ( John Russell) “This place no longer smiles on your people, take your warriors and leave.” It sums up the film perfectly.

The story is how the old way of life for everyone including the trappers like Kelly, is coming to an end. Rather sad really

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Samantha Eggar on Sir Donald Wolfit

Samanthat Eggar, at the age of 19 played on stage alongside the great actor himself in ‘Landscape with Figures’ where he, Donald Wolfit played Thomas Gainsborough which in a play written by Cecil Beaton.

She describes working with him, as one of a number of young actresses, who she says saw him as old school – he was 57 at the time – and they played him up and teased him and as she is quoted ‘behaved appallingly’ to such an extent that following a couple of incidents he did not speak to her.

Later in life she says that she realised just what Donald Wolfit had done for the British Theatre, touring with productions of Shakespeare, educating people in the classical actor-manager role for virtually no money. She then added ‘he really was a wonderful actor’

Their paths did cross again when he played a barrister in the film ‘Dr Crippen’ with Donald Pleasance in the title role and Samantha Eggar as Ethel Le Neve.

In a more recent interview she mentions the play with Sir Donald Wolfit – and she says :-

 It was Landscape with Figures, written and designed by Cecil Beaton. We opened that in Brighton, at the Theatre Royal. It was about the life of Thomas Gainsborough, the painter, so you can imagine what we all looked like on stage.

We were dressed as Gainsborough portraits, as if we had stepped right off his canvases. So it was just glorious-looking.

Sir Donald Wolfit played Gainsborough, and Mona Washbourne played his wife. I played Lady Hamilton, a part written in by Cecil. We played that particular one all around: at Bath, at Nottingham, we went to Dublin Theatre Festival with it.

Sir Donald Wolfit as Artist Thomas Gainsborough with actresses Ann Firbank (lower right) and Christine Finn  (upper right) who play his Daughters  in the play Cecil Beaton 

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I’ve Lived Before – 1956

This is a very good, interesting, and thought provoking film. I didn’t know much about it in fact had never heard of it, until I came across a review in a 1956 Picturegoer magazine.

It is a little known film with Jock Mahoney, plays a commercial pilot John Bolan, who had a fascination with flying since he was a little boy back in New York. At the age of 12 in 1931 young Johnny got into the cockpit of a bi-plane and flew and landed it like a seasoned pilot. It was the first time that Johnny was ever on a plane let alone less flying it.

A number of years later when, as the pilot of an airliner, he was about to fly his plane to New York, he walks along the aisle of the plane, turns round, and looks at the passengers and his eyes immediately fall on an older woman passenger and he is clearly unsettled by her.

His mind then fills with memories of a past life that he had led. John sees himself as a Peter Stevens a WWI US Army pilot who was shot down over France on April 29, 1918.

It’s that tragic memory that almost causes John to crash his plane with him and all on board. However thanks to the co-pilot they land safely.

John is the only one on the plane who is injured. In hospital, after the incident his thoughts of a life before leads him to leave and go investigate if there really was a Peter Stevens who was killed in an air battle over France in 1918.

Seeing his good friend and lawyer Robert Allen ( Simon Scott ) about the matter Robert checked out the information that John gave him and sure enough there was a Lt. Peter Stevens and he was shot down over France in April 1918.

John now finds out who that passenger who brought back those memories of WWI and finds out that her name is Jane Stone played by Ann Harding, and he goes to Philadelphia where she lives to find her. He is determined to find out from her if she knew Peter Stevens and, to John’s surprise, Jane says that not only did she know Peter Stevens but was engaged to marry him!

Then the revelation by John being Peter, in another life, leaves Jane in shock and she asks him to please leave.

John who never believed in, or even thought about, reincarnation now is firmly convinced that he lived before and lived the life of Peter Stevens. Nothing that the doctors or psychiatrists at the hospital say can convince him otherwise.

The only thing that can positively prove that he was Peter Stevens in another life is for the reluctant Jane Stone, who is persuaded by John’s fiancée Lois Gordon (Leigh Snowden), to come to New York. John needs Jane to confirm events between her and Peter that only she could possibly verify as being fact.

With that both John and Jane can put the case of Peter Stevens to rest one way or another.

It is an intelligent film about a mysterious subject – reincarnation.

At the film’s climax we have the scene where John and his fiancee are seated with Jane Stone and the Doctor – John McIntire – and Jane asks John some question such as – who was Peter’s best friend and he does not know the answer and then another question and again he does not know the answer.

The Doctor then asks Jane if she can ask him much more persoanl questions – and she asks him a question that only Peter could have answered – Where did he propose to her. John answers and describes the place and the scene in detail. She asks him what the song they had sung together which he knows correctly. Finally she produces an item from her handbag and asks the Doctor to hold it – she then says that no-one else has seen this since Peter died – John describes the item in detail – a broach – and also gives the inscription on the brooch word perfectly.

Jane then leaves calmly and we are left to ponder – an uncanny moment and yet it is strangely satisfying.

One good reason to see this film is to see the gorgeous Leigh Snowden. Pictured ABOVE. She made very few film and retired from acting before she was 30, after she married accordianist Dick Contino and dedicated herself to raising a family

ABOVE – Ann Harding commands your attention as much at age 53 as she did at age 28. She is truly timeless.

ABOVE – An advertisement for the film

ABOVE – Jock Mahoney pilots the airliner on the flight that nearly ends in disaster because of his pre-occupation with what he has found out

ABOVE and BELOW – In conversation with Leigh Snowden whilst in Hospital

This is a story that I do think could – and should – be re-made. The Second World War could be the original Wartime setting and the rest of the film some years later, in relatively modern times.

I must admit in this film though, Jock Mahoney is given a much more demanding part than we have seen him in before – and he is up to the job. Leigh Snowden as his girl friend is both attractive and sincere. Ann Harding, a very experienced actress is excellent as is the Doctor John McIntire – both of these having quite big and important roles.

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An interesting visitor to Hollywood

Mr and Mrs Krushchev, the Russian leader visited the 20th Century Fox Film Studios. The date was 21 September 1959.

I remember this new being in all the Newspapers in England as well as the TV channels – there were only two

ABOVE – Mrs Krushchev with Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra

Twentieth Century Fox had invited Khrushchev to watch the filming of Can-Can, a Broadway musical set among the dance hall girls of fin de siècle Paris, and he had accepted. It was an astounding feat – a Hollywood studio had persuaded the communist leader of the world’s largest nation to appear in a a publicity opportunity which also included luncheon at its elegant commissary, the Café de Paris, where the Mr Krushchev and his wife could dine with the biggest stars in Hollywood.

Mr Krushchev on the set of ‘Can Can’ 1959

Only 400 people could fit into the room, and nearly everybody in Hollywood wanted to be there.

The demand for invitations to the Khrushchev lunch was so strong that it overpowered the fear of communism that had reigned in Hollywood since 1947

A handful of stars—Bing Crosby, Ward Bond, Adolphe Menjou and Ronald Reagan—turned down their invitations as a protest against Khrushchev.

The only husband-and-wife teams invited were those in which both members were stars—Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh; Dick Powell and June Allyson; Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher. Marilyn Monroe’s husband, the playwright Arthur Miller, might have qualified as a star, but he was urged to stay home because he was a leftist who’d been investigated by the House committee and therefore was considered too radical to dine with a communist leader.

However, the studio was determined that Marilyn Monroe attended and she did

“At first, Marilyn, who never read the papers or listened to the news, had to be told who Khrushchev was,” Lena Pepitone, Monroe’s maid, recalled in her memoirs. “However, the studio kept insisting. They told Marilyn that in Russia, America meant two things, Coca-Cola and Marilyn Monroe. She loved hearing that and agreed to go….She told me that the studio wanted her to wear the tightest, sexiest dress she had for the premier.”

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